Monday, June 20, 2011

Smart-opedia: The Amazing Book About Everything

Smart-opedia: The Amazing Book About EverythingTitle: Smart-opedia: The Amazing Book About Everything     
Author: Eve Drobot, Translator - Various authors contributed   
Illustrator: Various Illustrators and Photographers   
Publisher: Maple Tree Press  (Owlkids, Inc)
Publication Date: 2007   
Genre/Format: Nonfiction-Encyclopedia/Dictionary/Reference Picture Book 
Summary: If you have questions, this book has answers! Jam-packed with information, photos, and illustrations about astronomy, the Earth, planets, animals, the human body, history, today's world, the arts, science, and technology.
What I Think: This book is just completely chock full of information.  I love it.  To help readers get started, there is an introduction that explains different text features kids can look for as they are reading.  Being able to navigate non-fiction text and use the text features is very important.  I love that this book points out some of the different text features and how they will be presented throughout the book so kids can be aware of them and recognize them when they pop up.
     Another aspect of this book that I love is the Know-It-All News.  There are two-page layouts that actual span the length of the book so you have to turn the book to read it.  The information is set up like a newspaper front page.  I feel like giving kids exposure to newspaper articles that they can read is tricky sometimes.  I love that this includes this element of some newspaper exposure because I think it's great for them to get as much exposure to a newspaper as they can.  
Read Together: K - 6 
Read Alone: 3 - 6 
Read With: Do Not Open by John Farndon, Guinness World Records 2011, other non-fiction texts about the topics in this book for further exploration 
Snatch of Text: 
"Have we explored all there is to see?
No, there are still remote areas that have no contact with the modern world. It could be a part of the Amazon rainforest, a tiny island, a patch of desert... Some are uninhabited, some are lived in by small groups of people who have adapted to life in the most difficult conditions.  These places still hold mysteries to solve, and there are millions of plants and animals left to discover." p. 27
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Using Non-Fiction Text Features, Asking Questions, Making Connections 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository   
Writing Prompts: Choose a topic from Smart-opedia and then do some more research on that topic.  Create your own piece of non-fiction text to represent the information you discovered.  You might create your own front page of a newspaper, a blog, a brochure, or a pamphlet, but be creative and use non-fiction text features to help your reader! 
Topics Covered: Integration - Science  
Translated to Spanish: No

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who Wants Pizza?

Who Wants Pizza?: The Kids' Guide to the History, Science and Culture of FoodTitle: Who Wants Pizza?: The Kids' Guide to the History, Science and Culture of Food  
Author: Jan Thornhill 
Publisher: Maple Tree Press by Owlkids Books Inc. 
Publication Date: 2010 
Genre/Format: Nonfiction-Informative/Picture Book 
Summary: This isn't just a book about pizza - it's a book all about where our food comes from, what we're really eating, and how what we eat impacts the world we live in. 
What I Think: Seriously, this isn't just a book about pizza.  This book takes an eye-opening look at the history of food and how food has changed through time.  I've read a lot about food and factory farming and eating more locally grown and whole foods in the last year and a half but most of this reading was adult reading with some young adult mixed in.  This book is great for middle grades to YA even.  I wouldn't recommend it to younger children because there are some pretty intense pictures in this book.  It definitely doesn't sugar coat where food is coming from or how consumers need to make healthy and smart choices when it comes to the food we eat.  Knowing that I know now about the food industry, I'm glad there is a book like this that doesn't mince words and that does use real photographs to make its point.
     My husband is a P.E. teacher and he is continually talking to his students about being healthy and getting exercise.  He does a unit on super foods and brings in super foods to show students, shares the benefits of the food, and even gives them recipes to try with the super foods.  I love the emphasis he puts on making healthy choices in their eating and that he does encourage them to do so.  I don't remember getting that kind of information in school - from elementary through high school.  I remember learning about the food groups and what foods to eat and not to eat, but I never learned about where food comes from or specifically looked at exactly what foods or how many calories my body really needed.  This book isn't the end all be all to health and nutrition, but I love that is lays out some serious information about food and can open the door to questioning and discussions.  I'm eager to share this with Peanut and Little Bean when they get older!
Read Together: 6 - 12 
Read Alone: 8 - 12 
Read With: Gabby and Gator by James Burks, Fat Cat by Robin Brande, The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet by Alicia Silverstone,  That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things by Ruby Roth 
Snatch of Text: 
"Crazy Numbers"
"Quick! What's the most numerous large mammal on Earth? Humans win, with 6.8 billion. And second? Cattle take the prize, with a population of 1.3 billion. Third are sheep, at 1.1 billion. And then come pigs and goats. All domesticated. To get what we want from these animals, we have made them the next most populous large mammals on the planet. But in trade for being fed and protected from predators, most are denied the freedom to live according to their instincts - to be active, to socialize, to choose mates, and to rear young."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Using Non-Fiction Text Features, Asking Questions, Making Connections 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Persuasive 
Writing Prompts: Choose a topic from this book that you would like to learn more about, research this topic and then create a document that explains the topic to others.  Extension: Add a persuasive panel where you persuade the reader to make better choices about the food he or she buys and eats.
Topics Covered: Integration - Science, Integration - Health, Food, Farming, Animals, Culture, Diet, Lifestyle 
Translated to Spanish: No

Monday, June 13, 2011

Look! A Book!

Look! A Book!Title: Look! A Book!  
Author: Bob Staake   
Illustrator: Bob Staake
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2011   
Genre/Format: Search and Find/Picture Book   
Summary: This is not your average search and find.  With die cuts on the pages and fun rhymes, kids are asked to search the book for some off-the-wall items.   
What I Think: I love all the energy in this book!  The illustrations are fun and kooky.  Peanut had a lot of fun looking at all the animals doing silly things.  We would stop to read the solid colored pages with the holes cut into them so you get a little sneak peak of the next page...but then we would turn the page and he would gasp at everything to look at.  Honestly, I don't like to have to look and look and look for too many items in a search book so this was perfect for me because there is only one outrageous item to find on every layout.  Believe me, that one item is still hard enough to find!  If you are keen on looking for more, there is another list at the back that you can go back and look for.
     Don't underestimate the power of a seek-and-find book.  Books that encourage young readers to interact are great.  I truly believe in letting little kids enjoy the experience of reading and this book definitely does that.  Little kiddos need the fun that comes in experiencing a book to help them progress as readers.  Here's probably my favorite part of this book: there is tremendous language to learn from it!  You didn't expect that, did you?  Honestly, there are strong words and descriptions in this book that are great to expose kids to.  Like I said, don't underestimate this one.  It's worth it. 
Read Together: Pre-K - 5 
Read Alone: Pre-K - 5   
Read With: Press Here by Herve Tullet, Where's Waldo? The Complete Collection by Martin Handford, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary TaleKnuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity and Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems (can you find the Pigeon? from Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Snatch of Text:  
A book!
A hook!
A cowboy cook!
Weird and kooky THINGS THAT GO! Some go fast, some go slow!
Can you find the squawking crow?"
Reading Strategies to Practice: Reading for Details, Scanning
Writing Strategies to Practice: Narrative, Descriptive
Writing Prompts: Choose an illustration from one of the layouts and write a story for the character(s) you chose.  
Topics Covered: $100 Words, Adjectives  
Translated to Spanish: No


Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Human Body: Lift the Flap and Learn

The Human Body: Lift the Flap and LearnTitle: The Human Body: Lift the Flap and Learn    
Author: Pascale Hedelin   
Illustrator: Robert Barborini
Publisher: Owlkids
Publication Date: 2011 
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book - Spiral-bound and Lift the Flap  Summary: "This hands-on book about bodies is a must-have reference for preschoolers!" - I agree completely with the publisher, this book uncovers various bodily topics in a way that is exciting yet informative. 
What I Think: As a mom and a teacher I love this book because it has helped me explain concepts that are difficult to understand or to explain to kids.  With little kids, I find it hard to explain concepts that people can't see and that goes for my deaf and hard of hearing students, too.  Anything visual to support what I'm teaching helps so much.  This book is so visual and hand's on.  there are flaps to lift, pages to slip open, wheels to turn.  It's fun for me even!  While most nonfiction picture books for kids have great photographs and illustrations, this book has the element of being interactive that is awesome.  There aren't any real photographs in the book, but I think that's what I would look for to extend learning on one of the topics or to continue the learning for older students.
     Have you seen the makeover to the food pyramid?  I just heard about it and I love it.  My husband is a PE teacher and I have changed what I eat lately so we talk a lot about what's healthy and what we should be eating.  The new system is called My Plate and you can read more about it at  I know I didn't get enough information about the food we eat and what food we should eat when I was in school.  I love how this book can be a springboard for talking about eating healthy and taking care of our bodies by eating foods that are good for us.
Read Together: Pre-K - 5 
Read Alone: Pre-K - 5 
Read With: The Human Body by Seymour Simon and other books about the human body or parts of our bodies; and articles from their website
Snatch of Text: 
Sun Power
"It's a beautiful summer day.  Jack is at the beach, but he didn't wear 
his sunglasses, hat, shirt, or sunscreen to protect him from the sun.  
Pull the tab to see what will happen to him.

Yikes! Jack's skin is all red.  He has a sunburn!  
And the sun's rays also gave him a headache.  
The rays are invisible but dangerous.  That's why it's 
important to protect your skin from the sun." 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Using Text Features, Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Persuasive
Writing Prompts: Create a brochure to explain how a part of the human body works, then persuade the reader to take care of his or her body.  For preschoolers, children could trace their bodies on butcher paper, color it in, and then label (by writing or by gluing printed words) to match or name body parts.   
Topics Covered: Integration - Science, Parts of the Body 
Translated to Spanish: No

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Owlkids Books

     One of my 2011 goals is to read more nonfiction.  I've been working on looking for more and more nonfiction picture books and even expository text to read.  I've even read some biography this year.  I'm thrilled to share Owlkids Books with you.  They have some great nonfiction texts available for children of various ages.  Not only do they have great books, they also have magazines for kids.  For ages 3-6 they have Chirp.  For kids who are ages 6-9 they have chickaDEE.  And for ages 9-12 they have Owl. Throughout June, I will be highlighting Owlkids books that they have shared with me.
Smart-opedia: The Amazing Book About EverythingThe Human Body: Lift the Flap and LearnHow Football Works (How Sports Work)
     I have noticed that as I explore more nonfiction text I am realizing how much kids are drawn to it.  As I talk to students about nonfiction text I'm reading or share it with Peanut, it is apparent to me how curious and interested in the world kids are.  It probably shouldn't be a huge revelation to adults, but I do think it is easy to forget how new the world is to kids.  I read nonfiction as an adult and as a teacher but getting back to nonfiction that kids read has awakened that 5-year-old me who wondered at how it is we are little beings seemingly magically held to the Earth as we spin through space and around the sun.
Why?: The Best Ever Question and Answer Book about Nature, Science and the World around YouWho Wants Pizza?: The Kids' Guide to the History, Science and Culture of Food
     Obviously, I realize how much fiction reading allows us to explore but nonfiction is a whole different element.  Have you read any of Owlkids' books or magazines?  What are you favorites?  What about nonfiction text?  For me, nonfiction text had me with the pictures.  I love how the pictures draw a reader in and catch our curiousity; just daring us to read what the picture is all about.  Make sure to check back for my reviews of these great books!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy DetectiveTitle: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective     

Author: Donald J. Sobol   

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Date: 1963   

Genre/Format: Mystery/Chapter Book   

Summary: After helping his dad, the chief of police, solve a mystery, Encyclopedia Brown realizes he could earn some money solving mysterious cases for kids and adults alike.   

What I Think: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective is definitely a book series I knew existed but had never read before.  I'm so glad I decided to read it's a great mystery book I will definitely be recommending to students who like mystery.  I love that each chapter in this book is a different case that Encyclopedia Brown so expertly solves.  Even as an adult I found myself not always sure of how he was able to tell who committed the crime.  

     Students will really have to pay attention to all the details to be able to figure out the mystery.  I love that all the solutions are listed in the back of the book.  I think this book would be great for a reluctant reader who might not want to spend lots of time waiting for something to happen in a book.  These mysteries are all short and sweet.

    I'm even thinking I can use some of the mysteries in this book for critical thinking or auditory processing activities because to be able to solve the mysteries it's important to be able to listen closely to the details and really think about what the clues are.  Since I work with students for such a short amount of time, these would be a nice warm-up and I wouldn't have to continue to finish the whole book; I can pick and choose which cases to read and try to solve.   

Read Together: 3 - 12

Read Alone: 3 - 5   

Read With: The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries) by Gertrude Chandler Warner; The Absent Author (A to Z Mysteries) and other books in the series by Ron Roy

Snatch of Text: "Everyone in the state thought that Idavilla had about the smartest policemen in the world.

     Of course, nobody knew a boy was the mastermind behind the town's police force.

     You wouldn't guess it by looking at Encyclopedia.  He looked like almost any fifth-grade boy and acted like one, too-except that he never talked about himself. 

     Mr. Brown never said a word about the advice his son gave him.  Who would believe that his best detective was only ten years old?" p. 3

Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Asking Questions, Making Connections, Making Inferences, Looking for Details 

Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository

Writing Prompts:  After reading one of the stories, explain how Encyclopedia figured out the solution to the case!

Topics Covered: Character Traits, Friendship, Loyalty, Hard Work, Thoughtfulness 

Translated to Spanish: No, but there are two Encyclopedia Brown books that have been translated to Spanish, although they may be tricky to find: Enciclopedia Brown Aprovecha Cada Dia/Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day (Spanish Edition) and Enciclopedia Brown Resuelve Todos Los Casos/Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All (Spanish Edition)


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